[ sleyv ]
See synonyms for: slaveslavesslaving on

  1. a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another and forced to provide unpaid labor.

  2. a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person: She was a slave to her own ambition.

  1. a drudge: a housekeeping slave.

  2. Photography. a subsidiary flash lamp actuated through its photoelectric cell when the principal flash lamp is discharged.

  3. Machinery, Computers. a device or process under control of or repeating the actions of a similar device or process.: Compare master (def. 21).

verb (used without object),slaved, slav·ing.
  1. to work like a slave; drudge.

  2. to engage in the slave trade; procure, transport, or sell slaves.

verb (used with object),slaved, slav·ing.
  1. Machinery, Computers. to connect (a device) to a master as its slave.

  2. Archaic. to enslave.

Origin of slave

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English sclave (also slave ), from Old French escla(i)ve, and Medieval Latin sclāvus (masculine), sclāva (feminine) “slave,” special use of Sclāvus “Slavic, a Slav, slave” (Latin does not tolerate the consonant cluster sl- and employs the cluster scl- instead); so called because Slavs in Central Europe and the Balkans were commonly enslaved in the early Middle Ages; see origin at Slav

Other words for slave

Other words from slave

  • slaveless, adjective
  • slavelike, adjective
  • pro·slave, adjective
  • sem·i·slave, noun

Words Nearby slave Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use slave in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for slave


/ (sleɪv) /

  1. a person legally owned by another and having no freedom of action or right to property

  2. a person who is forced to work for another against his will

  1. a person under the domination of another person or some habit or influence: a slave to television

  2. a person who works in harsh conditions for low pay

    • a device that is controlled by or that duplicates the action of another similar device (the master device)

    • (as modifier): slave cylinder

  1. (intr often foll by away) to work like a slave

  2. (tr) an archaic word for enslave

Origin of slave

C13: via Old French from Medieval Latin Sclāvus a Slav, one held in bondage (from the fact that the Slavonic races were frequently conquered in the Middle Ages), from Late Greek Sklabos a Slav

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012